Illinois secretary of state candidates talk about vision in replacing Jesse White

Jesse White, secretary of state, not running for reelection

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More residents visit the Illinois secretary of state's office than any other in state government.

And next year, for the first time in 24 years, someone else will be leading the office.

There are two major party candidates seeking to replace current Secretary of State Jesse White, who is retiring.

One option is Republican state Rep. Dan Brady from Bloomington. He was sworn into office in January 2001. Before that, he served two terms as the McLean County coroner.

He's currently a partner in a funeral home in Bloomington.

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The Democratic candidate is Alexi Giannoulias. He previously served as Illinois state treasurer. And in 2010 he ran for U.S. Senate, losing to Republican Mark Kirk.

Giannoulias is the CEO and founder of Annoula Ventures, which invests in start-ups.

SEE MORE: Illinois General Election: Meet the candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress

Both say modernizing the office and eliminating wait times are a key priority. Giannoulias has referred to the time people have to wait as a "time tax."

He said, "We want to modernize the office, bring new technology to the office. So we announced our skip the line program which will allow people to actually schedule an appointment, get to the front of the line so they don't have to wait, just like you do in the private sector. We're going to put driver's licenses and IDs on peoples' mobile devices for those who want them. We're also going to have office kiosks at all the DMVs. We've also looked at vision tests being online."

Brady said his plan to improve service includes, "Staffing those facilities fully which haven't been staffed fully in some time. We have a little over 96 facilities, motor vehicle facilities across the state of Illinois. So staffing and cross training, making employees know the dual responsibilities, why someone ends up at a facility. Really two purposes, driving services or vehicle services is what they need help with. And making sure that we can accommodate both through the training of those employees makes it a better experience on both sides of the counter."

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Brady also wants to provide more remote services. That could include kiosks at grocery stories and libraries.

The secretary of state's office manages one of the largest databases in Illinois, keeping track of nearly 8.7 million drivers, 11 million registered vehicles and more than 450,000 corporations.

So how would the candidates keep that personal information safe? Giannoulias said, "Cybersecurity and protecting the peoples' data will be at the forefront of every single thing that we do. So we've talked to other states, for example, looked at how they're handling it. The technology exists to keep peoples' information safe, just people should know we will not do anything unless their data is safe and protected. For example, we spoke to the secretary of state in Louisiana where they have mobile IDs and mobile driver's licenses. They have had zero instances of any hacking or fraud."

And Brady? "I think No. 1, that moving from paper boxes and into the digital world and the 21st Century is key. No. 2 is protecting peoples' identity. When I authored and created the birth and death records electronically in the state of Illinois through legislation, I worked with public health, I worked with the particular provider that provides those services now all while protecting personal identities and very, very delicate information. The same needs to be applied in the secretary of state's office.'"